Sandalwood hits a trough in 2017

Vedanth, Karnataka Today’s Sandalwood correspondent, lists the hits and misses of 2017 and examines the reasons thereof.

The year 2017 has been a poor year for Sandalwood, as compared to 2016. Nearly 200 films were released during the year including three dubbed films. The year began with three releases on January 6 2017 - Srikanta, Pushpaka Vimana and No Ball, out of which only Pushpaka Vimana was a success. The remaining weeks of the month saw many releases, however Beautiful Manasugalu was the only success, while the other films flopped badly.

In February, there were 15 releases, out of which only Chowka, Hebbuli and Srinivasa Kalyana found success. March was a good as well as a bad month. Bad because almost all films released in the month were flops and good because Puneeth Rajkumar starrer Raajakumara was an industry hit. The film broke all box office records and is still an industry hit.

April can be considered as the worst month of the year, with all films including Darshan's much hyped Chakravarthy flopping at the box office. In May, only Bangara s/o Bangarada Manushya managed to do some decent business. In June, only "Aake" worked to an average extent, with the remaining films seeing a bad fate.

July began on a good note where Ondu Motteya Kathe became a sleeper hit. The second hit of the month was Operation Alamelamma. Then came August, which was also a poor month like April, with zero hits. September began on good note with much hyped Mugulu Nage, which brought back Yograj Bhat and Ganesh, tasting success at the box office. Dhruva Sarja's Bharjari and Darshan's Tarak were blockbusters. September was the best month and it brought back celebrations to the industry’s stakeholders.

October, saw almost all films flopping at the box office, with only Dayavittu Gamanisi and Kataka doing average business. November was also a bad month, with only College Kumara doing average business, while others not even covering publicity costs. December began with a bang, as Mufti did record breaking business and has been the most liked film of the year. In the coming days, it may even beat the box office collections of Raajakumara.

The reason for poor performance of films can be attributed to poor selection of scripts. Today with so many options for entertainment, and galloping costs of an evening out of the house, people think a lot before deciding to watch a film at a theatre.

They need good content, period! If it is missing, there is no way a film can succeed. People have become smart about what they choose to watch. They also exercise the option of viewing films in other languages with subtitles and even cast them to their big screens with gadgets like the Amazon Firestick and Chromecast. Directors need to understand that not only do they need a strong script, but also technical aspects of the films must improve if they are to draw audiences to the theatres.

Another reason attributed for the poor performance of Kannada films is poor marketing. With so many releases every month, the film must be promoted to attract audiences. The promotion of some of the films has been very poor. A big star like Shivarajkumar had four releases this year, in which except Mufti, the other three were poorly marketed. And the result was that all films underperformed. Bangara s/o Bangarada Manushya could have been a bigger hit, if promoted well. The best promoted film was Ondu Motteya Kathe. Popular director Pawan Kumar, who backed the film made sure that he promoted the film on social media, which resulted in the film getting good collections, even though the film had newcomers.

We also did not see the release of many big star films this year. Yash and Rakshit Shetty, who are in top form, did not release a film during the year. Rakshit, who is also in top form after last year's blockbuster Kirik Party, took a year along with his team to complete the script of his next Avane Srimannarayana, which he plans to release in 2018.

KGF, which is touted as the costliest film of Sandalwood will release in the month of March 2018. The reason for the delay is the expectations from the duo of Yash and Prashant Neel, who are teaming up for the film. They know the expectations. Hence, they have decided not to rush it after their initial plans of releasing the film in December 2017.

This year was also special as three dubbed films were released this year - Sathyadev I. P. S., Vega Matthu Udvega 8 and Dheera. It was a first after decades that a dubbed film was released in Karnataka. While the first and third were dubbed from Tamil language, the second was dubbed from English. But the films were big flops.

The competition has become intense. It is high time that filmmakers learn from their mistakes made in 2017 – they must concentrate on making films with good content and promote them better. Perhaps if the big stars of sandalwood work in more films simultaneously, there could be more releases and audiences will be drawn to the theatres.

As of now, only Shivarajkumar is working on multiple films. Darshan had two releases this year but the remaining stars had only one release, which is bad for the film trade. Since Kiccha Sudeepa, Sriimurali and Dhruva Sarja had only one release each, big stars must work in more films. They should at least act in two films a year, as it will be advantageous to exhibitors as well as distributors.

There are loads of expectations from 2018 where some of the big releases like KGF, Muniratna Kurukshetra, The Villain, Tagaru and Avane Srimannarayana are expected. On the other hand, small budget films which have huge expectations in 2018 are Bheema Sena Nala Maharaja, sequel of Kendasampige and Kavalu Daari. The success rate of 2017 has been a big disappointment. It is hoped that 2018 will turn the tides for Sandalwood.

Top 3 Films of 2017
1. Raajakumara
2. Mufti
3. Bharjari

Top 3 Flops of 2017
1. Upendra Matte Baa
2. Maastigudi
3. Chakravarthy

Top 3 Surprise Hits of 2017
1. Operation Alamelamma
2. Ondu Motteya Kathe
3. Beautiful Manasugalu

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